American skepticism about legal education no doubt has been fueled in part by the economic crisis facing so many law schools today. Over the past six years, the national applicant pool to law school has declined by more than thirty-six percent.

by Marcus Alan McGhee
2015 Fellow, Program on Law and State Government
J.D. Candidate, 2016, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
M.P.A., 2012, Northern Kentucky University
B.A., cum laude, 2010, Northern Kentucky University


Starting a few decades ago, school districts across the nation began to adopt and strictly adhere to zero-tolerance policies related to student behavior. [1] As a result, hundreds—if not thousands—of youth were funneled into the criminal justice system. [2] This over-criminalized reaction has been exacerbated by the presence of the school resource officers (“SROs”) [3] in some jurisdictions. Minor infractions once left to the resourcefulness of teachers or principals are now under the purview of in-house police officers. [4] As a result, more students are receiving the end-of-school designation of felon instead of high school graduate. [5] Of course, not all instances result in a conviction. Nonetheless, simply being arrested is sufficient to create a lasting record in the criminal justice system. Furthermore, the arrests discussed in this Article are not the ones of gun wielding deviants, but instead are those resulting from behavior most would argue typify adolescence: things like back talk and disobedience. [6] Indeed, after reading some arrest reports one might assume that the reports were drafted for mock trials instead of genuine criminal hearings: a fourteen-year-old arrested for texting, [7] a thirteen-year-old arrested for passing gas, [8] and a six-year-old arrested for throwing a temper tantrum. [9]

Andrew Klein
Dean and Paul E. Beam Professor of Law
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Lawrence W. Inlow Hall, Room 227H
530 W. New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-3225
Faculty Profile Webpage
Twitter: @anrklein


Thanks to the editors of the Indiana Law Review for inviting my comments. I applaud your efforts to expand the journal’s scope and reach.

This post marks a personal anniversary of sorts. I have been dean of our school for a year, and it would be impossible to describe the experience in a short essay. But as a renowned philosopher once said, “We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” [1]. So indulge me some brief reflections.